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Two Westminster churches blend their congregations and sounds at talent show

Two Westminster churches blend their congregations and sounds at talent show
Belle Grove Legato is a bell choir made up of members from both St. Paul’s United Church of Christ and Westminster Church of the Brethren. (Bob Schellhammer/Courtesy photo)

With bells, beautiful photography, verse and song, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ and Westminster Church of the Brethren combined their resources to showcase an evening of talent.

About 65 people attended the show, at the Westminster COB on March 2, from both churches, whose congregants have a history of coming together for events.

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“We’ve had a joint bell choir for several years, since the director of our bell choir moved to Pennsylvania” COB Pastor Glenn McCrickard said. “In conversation with the pastor at St. Paul’s we decided to collaborate together so that we could both have bells. Now, members of both church’s play in the bell choir.”

COB’s Julie Richard spoke of the musical relationship the two churches have had for years. But to her, the show was about more than music.

“I strongly believe that the answers to most problems come through relationships,” she said. “A lot of our problems are because we are interacting with faceless individuals. Coming out of our normal environment and interacting with people you might not otherwise builds community and understanding. When relationships are being developed, that’s a positive thing.”

McCrickard said the talent show — organized by Jeanne Dussault, COB’s community spirit coordinator — is something they hope to do again. The numerous acts included the melodic sounds of two choirs, a joint bell choir with chimes, two vocalists, a pianist, an instrumental family band, a photo presentation, a reading and a skit, ending with a combined performance of “Creation Will Be at Peace” by St. Paul’s choir and Belle Grove Legato, a bell choir made up of members from both churches.

Belle Grove Legato, with bells, and the St. Paul's choir perform "Creation Will Be at Peace."
Belle Grove Legato, with bells, and the St. Paul's choir perform "Creation Will Be at Peace." (Bob Schellhammer/Courtesy photo)

“It was an evening of nice music and a fun atmosphere to be in,” McCrickard said. “Someone even read one of [his] favorite children’s stories.”

McCrickard’s contribution to the event was a slideshow of photos he'd taken, accompanied by music. He said he dabbles in photography, so it was the natural thing to do.

“I selected some of my favorite photos from retreats, travels and photos I snapped when I was out and about,” he said. “Then, I embedded a song to play in the background while the photos were shown. The song was the Mutual Kumquat version of ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ I wove the photos in, pairing some with the words.’ ”

Dussault took part in a skit called “Lady Elizabeth” with Pat Ecker.

“I played the part of an Elizabethan lady and Pat Ecker interviewed me about my life,” she said. “Doing that was a lot of fun. For part of it I sang a song and demonstrated a dance with our pastor, who volunteered from the audience.”

According to Dussault, the show had a lot of variety.

“My husband, Mark Woodworth, read his favorite children's story and was emcee. … Tessa Starr and her sister Wendy Baldwin organized a band performance by their two families. Phyllis Rice played the piano, and Julie Richard also sang a solo and directed Westminster COB's Senior Choir.”

The show was free and open to the public, although a free will offering was taken to be split between the churches. Afterward, attendees gathered for light refreshments and time to celebrate the community coming together.

Ronald Douglass is director of music at St. Paul’s UCC and director of the bell choir.
Ronald Douglass is director of music at St. Paul’s UCC and director of the bell choir. (Bob Schellhammer/Courtesy photo)

Ronald Douglass — director of music at St. Paul’s UCC and director of the bell choir — said their choir did one song, the bell choir did one, and he also sang a solo.

“The song I sang was from the play ‘Ragtime.’ The song, [‘Make Them Hear You’] is meaningful to me. I’m a person of color who is in Carroll County, not known as the most sensitive county in Maryland when it comes to issues of color. In the play, Coalhouse [Walker] is killed for something he did not do and because he is a black man. I’ve been singing this song for a couple of years. It is meaningful to me.”

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Douglass said the show was not for prizes, but for fun, and to display the talent that is available from both churches.

“It gave us an opportunity to serve the community and that is primarily my focus,” he said. “I want to let people know we are out there. It was loads of fun and we are already talking about doing it again next year.”

Dussault spoke about the joint performance that ended the show.

“ ‘Creation Will Be at Peace’ is one of my all-time favorites,” she said. “Being a part of performing it with bells and a choir was glorious, very moving and a wonderful way to end the show. It was a delightful evening for everyone and a good inter-generational and inter-church event. We plan to have it again in 2020.”

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